easyJet CEO Optimistic About Summer Despite High Testing Costs

The summer season is typically one of the busiest times of year for commercial aviation, almost regardless of the location or airline involved. After a turbulent and unpredictable summer last year, easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren is cautiously optimistic that, this time around, it will be a more stable affair. Let’s explore his reasons behind this position.

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easyJet has consulted its passengers about the cost of COVID-19 tests. Photo: Getty Images

A more stable position than last year

A key reason for Lundgren’s optimism regarding the British low-cost carrier’s summer prospects is how the world in general looks compared to 12 months ago. Despite concerns about new variants of coronavirus, he is confident that the ongoing vaccine rollout is helping to stabilize commercial aviation, and indeed society as a whole.

Furthermore, the proposed use of watchlists should help passengers feel more confident in making bookings by giving more notice if an area’s restrictions are about to change. Speaking at the virtual World Aviation Festival this morning, Lundgren stated that:

There are two things that [make] the difference. One is the stability that the vaccination gives countries and gives all of us. (…) Number two is the fact that there are now data and stats available that [weren’t] there last summer. (…) And the UK government said that they were looking to introduce a watchlist, where you could see and follow the trend of where countries were, and are headed.

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Lundgren has been easyJet’s CEO since December 2017. Photo: Getty Images

Strong presence at larger airports

Lundgren also hopes that easyJet will enjoy a stronger summer through its presence at larger airports. For example, he confirmed that the airline would base 71 aircraft at London Gatwick for the upcoming summer season.

There may also be scope for cautious growth on the part of the airline. As its CEO stated, “one of the core strategies of easyJet is to have leading positions at prime airports.” Indeed, it has recently hinted at considering operating from London Heathrow. Furthermore, with Air France recently having had to surrender some of its Paris Orly slots, Lundgren confirmed that:

We are keeping our eyes open for that, and when the opportunity comes, if the prices are right, and the conditions are right, we are absolutely going to explore those opportunities.”

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easyJet plans to run an extensive schedule out of London Gatwick this summer. Photo: Getty Images.

Concerns about testing costs

Lundgren is evidently, and understandably, very keen for his airline to return to flying as many passengers as possible. However, he worries that, if COVID-19 testing remains a prerequisite for travel, the cost could be prohibitive, particularly for larger families. To gauge passengers’ opinions on the topic, easyJet conducted a survey. Lundgren stated that:

“We’re going to do what we can in order to drive down these costs. We have worked directly with the suppliers where they’re offering that, if you book through easyJet, for example, it costs £60. But £60 is still a lot of money – the average fare with easyJet is £50. We did a customer survey that we publicized yesterday, where most people think it would be reasonable that the cost of these tests would be around £30.”

easyJet, Johan Lundgren, COVID-19 Tests
COVID-19 tests can be more expensive than airline fares themselves. Photo: Getty Images

Indeed, with low-cost carriers having come into existence to democratize air travel, the additional cost of testing negates the selling point of their low fares. It will be interesting to see how restrictions continue to ease or increase over the coming months. This is certainly an aspect that easyJet will be keeping an eye on, in order to ensure that it can safely and confidently take to the skies in the most widespread manner possible this summer.

Do you share Johan Lundgren’s relative optimism regarding the coming summer? How much would you pay for a test? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.